Heading into the final days of camp, today’s training camp session was without pads, which came as no surprise considering the level of physicality in the recent camp sessions. The storylines today included: a beloved player returning to action and making a statement, a player once praised by head coach Mike Tomlin released, and a camp phenom that continues to climb towards a spot on the 53-man roster.
This afternoon, the Steelers announced that second year undrafted wide receiver Canaan Severin was released. In his place, the Steelers signed quarterback turned linebacker Austin Gearing out Miami (Ohio). Severin had little room for error, considering the depth the Steelers possess at the wide receiver position, and, unfortunately for Severin, he made enough errors in his debut against the Giants which resulted in his release. With number of injuries noted with the Steelers linebackers, Gearing is an extra body this unit could use while trying to regain some measure of health.
We have signed LB Austin Gearing, and released WR Canaan Severin.— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 14, 2017
With every passing session, the list of injured players continues to decrease. As reported by Steelers.com team reporter Missi Matthews, coach Tomlin noted receiver Sammie Coates “getting close” to returning from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List. The good news didn’t stop there, as James Conner was back in action. According to ESPN Senior writer Jeremy Fowler, Conner got plenty of repetitions in different drills as he looks to work his way into the lineup for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. Other notable players returning to full action were Anthony Chickillo (hip flexor), Cameron Sutton (lower body), and Sean Davis (undisclosed).
The players who did not participate in today’s session were: Ryan Shazier (hamstring),Senquez Golson (hamstring), Mike Mitchell (lower body), Sammie Coates (knee), Keion Adams (shoulder), and Demarcus Ayers.
Training Camp Action:
Courtesy of @EmmetMahon
Courtesy of @EmmetMahon
James Conner - Conner was quoted by Fowler saying that he has known “his whole life” that he can play at the NFL level. Perhaps we can better assess this after he plays his first preseason game, but in today’s session, it did not take him long to make a statement. As illustrated in Fowler’s post-practice report, after catching a pass from quarterback Joshua Dobbs, Conner hit safety Jordan Dangerfield with what he described as a “video-game-inspired juke”, giving him the open space needed to score a touchdown. The move prompted celebratory chest bumps and hugs by Antonio Brown and other teammates in the end zone. To make this type of impression on his first day returning to team drills, says enough to let you know that he could be very special.
Mike Hilton - The young man out of Ole Miss, labeled by Steelers analyst Tunch Ilkin as the ‘camp phenom’, was at it again. Antonio Brown aside, Hilton has arguably been the most consistent camp performer, which is why at this point it would nonsensical to deny his chances of making the 53-man roster. In today’s session, Hilton broke up a pass intended for Darrius Heyward-Bey, then followed it with an interception. This has been the norm for Hilton since camp started, and there is no indication of him stopping anytime soon.
Ben Roethlisberger - Ben had the type of day that only Ben could have. Noted in Fowler post-practice report, he hit 5 different receivers in the 11-man drill and went 3 for 4 in the goal-line drill with three touchdowns. To punctuate his day, after a completion to one of his tight ends during one-one-ones, Fowler overheared Roethlisberger telling linebacker Anthony Chickillo; “Chick, you almost had it, dawg”. It was that type of day for the future Hall of Famer.
William Gay - The veteran cornerback had a good day with two interceptions, one of which prompted a celebratory dance with his teammates as reported by Fowler. Many can say what they want about Gay at this point in his career, yet he is still an invaluable part of the Steelers defense.